(Written Tuesday Night)
We had our preliminary hearing today. It lasted maybe 15 minutes and seemed pretty pointless to be honest. It was Kostya, Kevin, and I, the judge, a couple women who were doing clerical type work for the hearing, a few orphanage workers, some social workers, and I think three (maybe four?) women were the public jury. I don’t think they actually do anything but witness the proceedings. We were both a little nervous because we didn’t know what to expect. Julia was there. I kept looking at her and because the bench where we were sitting was facing them from a 90 degree angle. She looked like she was about to crack up laughing at any moment. It made me want to laugh so I had to look away. The judge asked us a few questions each. (Who we were, when and where we were born, where we lived, and what we did.) We were out of there pretty quickly. He hardly went over anything. When we got outside Kostya and Julia told us that the judge was a Russian speaker but had to conduct court in Ukrainian (I think this is a new requirement) and he could barely speak it. That is why Julia and the other ladies were on the verge of cracking up the whole time and it may also be why court was so short. Fine with us. We go back on Thursday for the hearing.
Russian is the predominant first language here in Ukraine, though some regions do speak Ukrainian. The government is trying to switch things over to have Ukrainian be more widely used and I think this may have been one of the steps they are taking. Kostya told us that many movies here in Ukraine are American movies dubbed in Russian. Now the government has decided that movies will be dubbed in Ukrainian.
Kevin will be headed home after court for the 10 day wait. He will return when it is over to finish up the paperwork (birth certificates and passports, etc.) and we will all travel home together. It is nice that he is going home so that he can take care of preparing some things that we will need for when we all arrive. We left thinking we would probably come home with two kids, ages 6 and under. We bought next to nothing beforehand and did little preparation around the house. Now we are making a list of things that he should bring back with him, things he wants to get done while he is there, things to buy, etc. Since the kids are old enough to have an opinion (and they have plenty ;) ) we want them to have a say in how their bedrooms look and that sort of thing. We don’t want to overwhelm them with too much too soon though. They alternate between a few outfits here and share pretty much everything. Too many choices may be difficult for them. We also love the way they play with pretty much anything and their wonderful imaginations. So we want toys that are geared toward creative play and educational games and toys since they will be starting school shortly after coming home. (Well the three oldest will.)
To anyone who is adopting in the future I would highly recommend making a picture book. I know I have said this before but we made ours through Shutterfly and it came out beautifully! Everyone loves it. The kids love to look at it. Alina likes to keep it at night. Ilona looks at each page and chatters away about what is on each page. We have a picture of our neighborhood pool in there and Alina asked me today if she could swim there. ☺ It is far better than any toy we have played with. The adults love it too.
The Ukrainian people have all kinds of nicknames that they use with each other. There are common endings added to names as terms of endearment. For instance Alina is often called Aleen, Alinka, or Alla. Kostya and Olya call their son Nikita Nikitushka. Ilona is often called Ilonka. The kids call us Mama and Papa (like Mom and Dad in English). Today Ilona started calling me “Momitchka” and Kevin “Poppy.” How sweet is that? They call all of their caregivers “Mama” or Mama Tatiana, Mama Olga, etc. So this was her way of making a special name for us.
After court on Thursday I will write about the names that we have chosen for each of our children. We will give them the option of being called their given name (which is going to be part of their name anyway) or the name that we chose for them. I am not sure which Alina will pick. Alina is such a beautiful name and it suits her. I am not sure I will want to call her anything else. We have been using a combination of the names to talk to them and the kids are responding to both now. We didn’t know how they would react, but they seem to like them (or at least think that they are another nickname). Well today I realized that we had left the sticky note with the names on it from the day that we picked them (after we had only just met the children) and the Russian translations in the front cover of the picture book. (We stuck it there so it wouldn’t get creased in my purse and we could save it for the scrapbook.) Well Alina (who has had the book in her possession for the last week) opened the book and read me all the names. I guess she figured that one out herself. Here we were wondering how she would receive that news and she has probably known it for a week. ☺
There are very few men around the orphanage. The director of the orphanage where the three kids are is a man, there is a groundskeeper who is male, and there have been a few men doing some construction work around the orphanage lately. But for the most part the children who live at the Lugansk Orphanage #1 see and interact with mostly females. The other day we were out on the playground and a little boy came up to Kevin and started rubbing the hair on his legs and looked really surprised. I guess the men at the orphanage are probably always in pants. It was so funny. Our kids get so upset when other kids try to talk to us or touch us. I guess they want the other kids to know that we are their mama and papa and they don’t want to share.
Michelle, that is interesting about the other couple that had two court sessions. We are in Lugansk with the three kids but their home town is Stakhanov which is (I think) the same city you are referring to. Edward's orphanage is in Shastia(?) about 40 minutes away from here. I can't remember if I had mentioned this in any other posts.
Stephanie, I hope to see you two and meet Leira once we are home. I hope that everything else goes very smoothly and that Leira does well on the plane. :) We are praying for you guys. It was so nice to meet you. I actually have a couple outfits that I should give you for her. We brought a few things with us and I have a really cute dress that will be a little two small for our little girl.
Kevin taught Ilona to give fives and a pound. (That's "respect" for the B's!)
Ilona teaches her "Poppy" some Ukrainian dances moves. Both girls love to sing and dance.
Comparing snacks. Don't you just love the 80's denim pullover that Igor has on? It had a Hello Kitty looking cat on the front. Can't wait to get him home and dress him like a boy. :)
Hanging out with Alina on Monday night. This garden area is in front of a hotel we like to walk to at night. We always play hide and seek here. (That is how Alina has learned to count in English.)